Monday, 12 November 2012

Benevolent Sexism at Work: Gender Differences in the Distribution of Challenging Developmental Experiences

an article by Eden B. King (George Mason University), Whitney Botsford (University of Houston–Downtown), Michelle R. Hebl, Stephanie Kazama and Andrew Perkins (Rice University) and Jeremy F. Dawson (Aston University) published in Journal of Management Volume 38 Number 6 (November 2012)


The current research draws from ambivalent sexism theory to examine potential gender differences in the quantity and quality of developmental work experiences.

In a sample of managers in the energy industry, men and women reported participating in a similar number of developmental experiences (with comparable levels of support), but men rated these experiences as more challenging and received more negative feedback than did women.

Similarly, a sample of female managers in the health care industry reported comparable amounts, but less challenging types, of developmental experiences than their male counterparts’.

The results of three complementary experiments suggest that benevolent sexism is negatively related to men’s assignment of challenging experiences to female targets but that men and women were equally likely to express interest in challenging experiences.

Taken together, these results suggest that stereotype-based beliefs that women should be protected may limit women’s exposure to challenging assignments, which in turn may partially explain the underrepresentation of women at the highest levels of organizations.

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